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Jalosjos justifies VIP treatment for moneyed Bilibid inmates

If they can afford it, Bilibid prisoners should seek better living conditions inside the national penitentiary, said former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted rapist who spent 13 years in jail before his release in 2009. Jalosjos went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday to discuss with Justice Sec. Leila de Lima his grievances about the reforms that will be instituted at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). Speaking to reporters before meeting with De Lima, Jalosjos said he himself received special treatment during his stay at the NBP from 1998 to 2009. "The VIP treatment that was received by us is given by prisoners themselves. As in any place on earth and in heaven, they are not all the same. There are angels, and there are [others] higher than angels," he said. "Now in Bilibid, there are people who can afford and there are people who cannnot afford. In one kubol or in one building, someone has to clean the toilet, someone has to do the cooking. Only those who are willing to do it will do those chores," Jalosjos added. He further said: "I don't see why we should insist on the democratization of sufferings -- that if one suffers, you must all be suffering." The supposed mismanagement at the Bureau of Corrections, which supervises the NBP, has been placed under the spotlight following Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste's unauthorized trip outside Bilibid last month. One of the immediate reforms that De Lima wants to implement is the dismantling of the "kubols" or cubicles occupied by wealthy inmates and convicted Chinese drug. Jalosjos, however, did not agree with De Lima's plan. "If that happens, chaos will return to Bilibid," he said. Jalojos in Bilibid Jalosjos was convicted in 1997 by the Makati Regional Trial Court for raping an 11-year old girl in 1996. The lower court's guilty verdict paved the way for Jalosjos' transfer to the New Bilibid Prison in 1998. In 2001 and 2002, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's conviction of Jalosjos and his sentence of life imprisonment. But in April 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commuted Jalosjos' sentence to 16 years, three months and three days. MalacaƱang denied that the commutation was a political accommodation for the convicted rapist. Jalojos walked free from the NBP in March 2009, despite having served his sentence for only 13 years. He was considered to have served the 16-year sentence because of the good conduct time allowance he acquired. While in Bilibid, Jalojos financed the construction of several establishments in the national penitentiary, which include a tennis court, a gymnasium, and a bakery inside the NBP's maximum security compound. Outside the complex, he had the Tennis Academy of the Philippines built, including a resto-bar in Katarungan village. In Thursday's interview, Jalosjos said that while he was an inmate, he still earned money because he served as chair of various companies outside Bilibid. "When I was in prison, I'll let you know that I was paying P1 million taxes a month. My income tax was P12 million a year. I was an employee of several companies and they were paying my salary as chair of the Board. The companies are all outside. I have businesses inside but i don't earn for me," Jalosjos said. He added that the bakery's income finances about 50 children of inmates who are part of Jalosjos' scholarship program. Jalosjos said the tighter regulations in Bilibid has affected the bakery's earnings. He then said that the will appeal the matter to De Lima. - VVP, GMA News